It is not 1 April but…

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“Ye Olde NueZelnd Herald” has yielded another little gem; a reference to US based Better Food Solutions, an organisation which is convinced the solution to the food miles challenge could be overcome by building glasshouses on top of supermarkets. An interesting thought to ponder as I prepare to fly to Berlin for Fruit Logistica. A leisurely pursuit of Better Food Solution’s website comes up with several highlights, amongst them;

  • An artist’s impression of how one of those stores would look
  • The statement that “hydroponics is the future of agriculture”
  • That the organisation will be “contractually binding the grocery store below only to purchase fresh, extremely local products from above”.

One of the key benefit touted are the non-existing transport costs which would ensure  “competitive pricing and make each farm a viable business on its own.”

 Boy, oh boy.

I guess we need to be grateful that new thinking is emerging to deal with the issues we are creating thick and fast as we overcrowd the planet – but I am sorry, this scheme will not be the salvation its inventors would like it to be. It needs more than one glasshouse to supply even a medium sized supermarket consistently. There might not be any transport costs involved by way of road miles, but how does the produce get off the roof? It still needs to be handled, prepped and consolidated one way or the other. Where is all the water going to go? It can’t just go around and around forever – at some stage it will need to go down the hatch. And as one of my colleagues just pointed out as we are discussing the matter – municipal water is a lot more expensive than rural bore water.

What really gets me going though is the view that supermarkets could be contractually bound. I am sorry but this idea will not go anywhere beyond the “field testing” stage. Back to the drawing board, old chaps!

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